Click here to listen to an audio file of this interview
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Mona Miller Joyce (CN 535, T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing.
Chinese place names are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing," if that is how the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which would be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliteration form to which it corresponds.
Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript, made by Todd Thompson, Matt Thompson, and Paul Ericksen, was completed in November 2004.
Collection 535, T1. Interview of Mona Miller Joyce by Paul Ericksen, August 15, 1996.
ERICKSEN: This is an oral history interview of Mona Joyce by Paul Ericksen for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. This interview took place at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday August 15, 1996, at the office of the Archives at the Billy Graham Center.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Well, let's begin by talking about when and where you were born.
JOYCE: Well, I was born in Scotland. And...do you want the place?
JOYCE: A small place called Plains near Airdrie or Coatbridge. That should be known to some people [clears throat]. And I lived there, well, for (do you want how many years?)...until I really left for preparation for China. So that was twenty...my first twenty-three years.
ERICKSEN: Okay. And in what year were you born?
ERICKSEN: Okay. And what...what was the date?
JOYCE: [laughs] Fourth of August.
ERICKSEN: Well, we just missed your birthday.
JOYCE: Yeah, right. Same as the Queen Mom's, only I'm not as old as she is.
ERICKSEN: Now, how...? In some of the...at least in the...the CIM [China Inland Mission] directories, in the back of the directory your name is listed as C. M. M. Miller. And I'm wonder...I know that the "C" stands for Catherine. How did you come to be called Mona?
JOYCE: That is, see, from my maternal grandmother's area. It's Manx [offshoot of Scottish Gaelic, the almost extinct language of Great Britain's Isle of Man] language of , as far as I can make out. The next name, the next "M" is definitely Manx, so Manx surname. So Mona was chosen by my parents, I guess. Madrill was my maternal grandmother's maiden name...
JOYCE: ...and that is Manx, you know, Manx, Isle of Man. And that's how these [laughs] three initials are in my...I'm not...the Catherine, I think, was my maternal Grandmother. Catherine Madrill, name...one that was slung in.
ERICKSEN: So you were named after your grandmother. Do you remember her?
JOYCE: No. I never met her.
JOYCE: After all, these were the days gone by when you named after [laughs]...
JOYCE: ...par...parents or grandparents and then relatives [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Now, tell me a little bit about you parents. What...what did they do?
JOYCE: Well, my father was a...what they called...what you...a something clerk, [pronounced in the British manner as "clark"] (clerk, you'd say here) [pronounced in the American manner], a bookkeeper in a...in a company, and for many many years. In fact, he was seventy years in the one company.
JOYCE: My mother died when I was eight at the age of forty-nine. So I didn't really know her. I heard of her and wished I had known her, but I didn't know her. [pauses] My father remarried four years later, and that...there was...I had one brother.
ERICKSEN: Older, younger?
ERICKSEN: Okay. And would this have been a stepbrother?
JOYCE: He was...he was my own brother.
ERICKSEN: And what's his name?
JOYCE: Ro...yes, Robert McGregor McCloud Miller [laughs, Ericksen laughs]. He wanted anything more of this Scottish. [both laugh]
ERICKSEN: And what...what kind of man was your father? How would you describe him?
JOYCE: I don't know how to describe my father. I thought he was a wonderful person. I would say that he was a good man. When he died, my brother said, "Well, there goes a fine Christian gentleman." [shows strong emotion in her voice while talking] But that was...you could describe him like that. He wouldn't have hurt a fly. He wouldn't have done...he was very.... When I mentioned going to China he said, "Well, someone has to go, someone has to sacrifice." [shows strong emotion while talking] So I knew where he stood. But he wa...he was a wonderful person because he acted as father and mother both...I mean, to us when my mother died. He gave of himself. And I have pictures in my mind of...Sunday afternoons he would take me [shows strong emotion while talking] on...what we called the "Art Bible" which was like these big family Bibles, and read us from the Bible, my brother and me...to my brother and me. And one of his favorite passages was the story of Ruth. [laughs] He loved the story of Ruth. And these were...so that he was a very upright, solid Christian man.
ERICKSEN: Was he...was he a quiet man? Was he outgoing?
JOYCE: Quiet. No, he was...he was quieter than his daughter was. His son is a bit more like him [both laugh]. But he was quiet in general and had good reputation wherever he was. He was the one who didn't gamble and didn't drink [laughs] and various things in the office, you know, and so on. No, he was known as a good man. [pauses] I think that that has...these are...the parentage is often a very important thing and...and plays a vital part, I think, often in missionary life. Now you do get missionaries who have been picked out of the [laughs] wilderness, you might say, and...but I think that very often roots that have been...have gone deep when we were small bear fruit. Not always. I mean, there's sometimes mis...misfits or missed steps taken. But he...he was...and I remember wanting to know about my mother and asked him this question, you see. "Well, what my was my...what was Mother like?" (Don't know whether I can say it.) [shows strong emotion while talking] He said, "Your mother was a wonderful woman." End of any question I ever made. [laughs] So I...I feel that I grew up in good...with good parentage. I remember coming through from (after having been in bed)...and then coming through and finding my father and mother sitting by the fire with a book in their hand. [shows strong emotion while talking] I imagine it was the Bible. I'm sure it was. So these are [laughs]...I don't know why I'm so emotional about it...
ERICKSEN: That's alright.
JOYCE: ...because, you know, it's gone. But it was...I think I was blessed with the parents I had. Even though I got a spanking often from my mother for the wrong...wrong thing. [door opens in the background] I wasn't to blame [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Now was she the one more likely to do the disciplining? [door closes in the background]
JOYCE: I don't know. My father was a quiet disciplinarian. [laughs] My....
ERICKSEN: So you would get spankings from him too?
JOYCE: [laughs] Yeah, I didn't. But my brother later, he was blessed or otherwise with a very quick temper [laughs] and a good Scottish red-hair, but he wasn't a red-head. And he would [door closes in background] have real temper tantrums. And I...I was impressed by my father. He would just...he would go on the floor, you know, and scream. My father would just stand there and wait and hold...maybe hold his arm firmly, not say anything or do anything. And he always said...I remember him saying it, I don't know to whom, maybe to me, "He will grow out of it." He said, "Oh, when he's about...when he gets to fourteen he'll...he'll grow out of it." That was his method of discipling. Although he did discipline, I think, by spanking when my [laughs] brother had gone behind the hedges to smoke. [laughs] That was a no-no, even when my father did, but for his a...for his age? So I would say he was a very quiet disciplinarian.
ERICKSEN: You mentioned reading the Bible on Sunday afternoons. Any other practices of your family that you recall, spiritual practices?
JOYCE: Well, my father was a...he was a deacon in the church.
ERICKSEN: What church was it?
JOYCE: Church of Scotland, [laughs] of course, in those days. And he was very faithful in fulfilling his duties. And also he was superintendent of the Sunday school. [door closes in background] For him as a quiet person, you know, he just quietly went on doing these things. He was very musical and he would lead the...the children in singing. I mean, he would lead the opening exercises. I remember these things back from the time I was in Sunday school. And...but he was...whatever he did, he did to the best of his ability in every way. So that I think I was blessed with great parents.
ERICKSEN: Now, can you tell me a little bit about when your spiritual journey...how did that begin?
JOYCE: Began. [door closes in background] That...I've often thought back these years. I had a very definite conversion. But long before that, even before my mother died, she was in bed, which was her death bed, but...and we had hanging up on the, I guess, bracket (because we had gas in those days) a text that I was given in Sunday school. We always had these paper or cardboard texts for...for something you'd done, you know, good attendance or repetition of Scripture. And it said, "Jesus said, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'" [Hebrews 13:5 based on Deuteronomy 31:6, 8] And, I...I mean, it was just one of mine that I had brought home. But I remember my mother lying in bed said, "Isn't that true, Robert," to her fath...to her husband. And he affirmed it was [shows emotion while speaking, laughs]. And that goes back to...I was probably seven, six or sev...seven, or just coming on eight. So there were these things that I think left their impression. And then, of course, we came up into the teen years, and we were Sunday school attenders, my brother and me. And we went to church and that was all. We sat and dangled our legs and...but we went into church. There was no children's church or any of these things [laughs] in those days. But there was always a story for the children so you...you...you weren't forgotten. So in that way we...my...I think my...any spiritual tendency or trend was nurtured, and therefore I grew up in a...you might say a Christian circle, apart from...we didn't go to a Christian school. But they...and made us stronger. But nowadays we judged our fellow...our peers...you know, "He told a lie." Well, today who doesn't tell lies? Everybody does. Those days they didn't. There was standards that were held even by us kids. So I think all of that had its effect on the...my earlier life.
ERICKSEN: You said there...now you had a definite conversion.
JOYCE: Well, yes.
ERICKSEN: How did that come about?
JOYCE: Well, then as I grew older, I came into my teens, I remember saying to my brother, "Oh, well, is there really a God?" He said, "Well, that's your life of faith," he said, you know [laughs]. He wasn't a Christian, either, you know. I mean, he was three or four years younger than I was, three years. And these questionings came up, you know. But no...then we...I was connected with...the...we called it the "Band of Hope." I don't know what you'd call it here. It's the teaching children the dangers of alcohol, that kind of thing. And I played the little organ there for this and was there at the meetings. And that in itself did not affect me, but I...I'm sure all of these things are good, but a friend of...of mine...of the family...she said at that time, she told me later, that she tried many times to get students from the Bible Institute to come out. And she said, "Every time [laughs] I got someone to come out, you were not there." I...and looking back, of course, God had His time and His way. And then she was a Bible class leader in the church, this friend. And it was at that Bible class that I first met the Lord. And Raymond, my husband, was at the meeting. But it was the message of the missionary [unknown] who was with him (gone to the glory now), he was a South American missionary. And it was he who...whose message got home. And it was though I got rushed into things, because he said afterwards, "Mona, where would you like to go? India, Africa, or South America?" Or China, South America. And I, in my ignorance, I [laughs] wasn't [unclear] just from church knowledge. I said, "Well, there's a great need at home." "Oh yes, but a greater need abroad." And that...then he said, "Nothing would give me greater joy than to see you in BTI." I thought, "BTI. What's BTI?" I didn't know what BTI was. It was the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. I...I didn't answer. But it was that evening that I surrendered myself to the Lord. Not in anybody's presence or not with this person. And I knew that the Lord had accepted my...me, and I was a Christian from then on. But some people weren't too sure, you know. They [laughs]...they...my Bible class leader friend, she had to put it in other words. She said, "How did you enjoy hearing this missionary?" I said, "Oh, it's very good," you see and all that. And then she said, "Well, did you make any decision?" Then it dawned on me what I had done, that it was a decision, I mean. And so from then on I reckoned that was when I first knew the Lord. And went step by step from that. And...but you see just being a church member or church goer didn't mean that you were really dedicated to the Lord. You did things in the name of the church, but not in the name of the Lord. So....
ERICKSEN: Did you get involved then in...did you...
JOYCE: Oh yes.
ERICKSEN: ...you continued with the Bible class or....?
JOYCE: Yeah, we did continue with that, and then I...I had a class of my own then, as I was...I was about seventeen by the time I made that decision and I had a class...a small cla...the youngest children in the Sunday school. And I developed that along the...a line that I thought was best. And the...the children...I wanted to have them alone. Not just...we had all the classes in the church in the auditor...I mean in the sanctuary. But I wanted them by themselves so that there was more freedom to teach them as we could. And it developed from that. And then there was other things attached to it. They have what we call the a birthday...no...Baby, Baby...Baby...Baby Roll, I think we called it. I've forgotten the name exactly. But....
ERICKSEN: Cradle Roll maybe....
JOYCE: Cradle Roll. That's...I knew "cradle" came into in somewhere [laughs]. And this was the...remembering children on their birthdays. And I made a point then of going to the home and...not just sending a card but I'd go to the home. And often one had opportunity to witness there to the parents because sometimes as the children grew older they would send the children to Sunday school but didn't come themselves. So you had...it was a kind of form of evangelism. And so somebody...the representative of the China Inland Mission at that time in Glasgow in an interview or talking to me once, he said, "Are you called to Scotland or are you called to China?" I said, "Well, to China." "Well," he said, "you'd better just go easy on [laughs] what you're doing here," 'cause he meant that I was doing something every night, you know. "If I did that," he said, "...if you have a breakdown then we'll look twice and maybe you won't get there." Of course, I didn't feel I was anywhere near a breakdown, [laughs] but....
ERICKSEN: So he was cautioning you not to burn yourself out too soon?
JOYCE: Right. That's what we'd say nowadays, but he didn't talk about burning out then. Just over-doing it or something crazy but....
ERICKSEN: Now, did you have kind of Bible school training then after...
JOYCE: Yes. Then...
ERICKSEN: ...you finished high-school?
JOYCE: ...Then, of course, when I finished highschool I went not immediately into Bible school, but I went to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College. It was a big...it was a go...it was a good college. I did my commercial....
ERICKSEN: Was that like a business...?
JOYCE: Yeah, a business course...whole works. And very very good course. And then I worked for some years, and gradually then I had a call to the mission field. And that was equally important...I mean equally definite, as definite as my....
ERICKSEN: Can you talk about that?
JOYCE: Yes, I mean....
ERICKSEN: How did that come about?
JOYCE: This same lady, bless her heart, who had been the Bible class leader, she was in touch with CIM [China Inland Mission] and their youth work that they had in those days there. And we went to one of the youth meetings and it was there through the message of...I don't even remember the name of the people speaking but...I was...I knew I was just knocked flat [laughs]. I knew this: I had to go to China. How I would get there was another question altogether. I hadn't a penny to my name. [laughs] I mean I'm [unclear] working and...and it just seemed an utter impossibility. But when I went home from the meeting I had to just get alone with the Lord and you know, just rededicate myself along that line. And it was some years before I went, before I actually got there. And that same representative [laughs]...Scotland, I think, gave me a tough time. I thought here, you know, I was seventeen, in my teens and they should be glad that these...such people [laughs] were interested in going to the mission field. But he absolutely ignored me. Never gave me any word of encouragement, not like today, you know. I went to the prayer meeting. I talked with him and his family. I was there regularly, even after I went into Bible school. Never anything to encourage me about going to China. Anyway, that was still there. So I just waited and then. the time came when they...I would have to take another step, either like apply to the mission or to...in some way...which I did.
ERICKSEN: And what year was that that you applied?
JOYCE: Oh dear. '34, I guess. '34 'cause I went there in '36.
ERICKSEN: Now at the point which you applied, had the Stams died yet, been killed?
JOYCE: No. '34. [pauses] I think it was '35. I said about '34. No, I went down to London. Then I moved. I had to see the councils [unclear]...councils of the mission. And I went then instead of being with the...staying on in the Bible school. They wanted me down in London, England, for final training, or to watch [laughs] and see how things go. I...so I...I went to London then. Interestingly enough, I carried on Bible study down there where I had left off [laughs] in...in Bible school. So I was very happy about that. It was...it rounded it off. And I was there for a year. And then the...about a year, a year and a bit, '35. And then I was accepted for going over to China and...and went in 1936.
ERICKSEN: Did you ever consider other missions or was CIM...?
JOYCE: No. I knew about other missions. I mean, our church had other missions. And one minister (I don't think he was in our church), but he was a minister of the Church of Scotland. And he said, "Well, why don't you go out with us?" They had work in Korea and various places. And I said, "Well, I like the principle...the faith principles." [Hudson Taylor had founded the mission on the principle that he would not solicit funds but pray to God for what was needed. This was called the "faith principle."] And with no experience of anything such of [laughs]...of ignorance of, you know, the young. And I liked that and I didn't kind of feel...well, in...with the other churches of that time. My way of looking at it: if you just didn't have enough money you retrenched, you came back or you did something. And whereas the other method is if its less then everybody has less and then we work together to the end of whatever comes the next year. But they didn't say much more. And I...so I never really thought of other missions. I knew of them, SIM [Sudan Interior Mission at that time] and various others. In fact there was a Dr. [Andrew P.] Stirrett in SIM at that time, a right firebrand. And he had made his way to Africa and said, "I'm here," because SIM wouldn't accept him for his age or something. He went out like that. Anyway, he came back and spoke at this small group that we had of one or two Christia...one or two of the younger people had been converted after I was. So there was a group of us. And he...no...or I don't know how the conversation came up but he...or came into being, but he said, "Well, it's people like you. I...well, I've just finished translating the Hausa Bible. It's just people like you," he said, "just your age and everything I...I need in Africa to distribute the Hausa Bible." I said, "But I'm called to China." "Oh yeah, I thought I was called to China too, but," he said, "I'm in Africa." [laughs] I said, "Well, [laughs] I didn't think I would be going to Africa." [laughs] He was most...he was out to get what recruits he could.
ERICKSEN: Now was that Norton Stirrett? [it was not]
JOYCE: I think that was his name. He was a small firebrand, but he's gone now, of course. I remember him so well. But you know, I think that all of these things had their effects on, positive or otherwise...on young people going out. Of course today is very different.
ERICKSEN: Any other people who come to mind that had a real significant impact on your...either your Christian life or your decision and determination to be a missionary?
JOYCE: In what line do you mean? [laughs] Sorry, I shouldn't be questioning you.
ERICKSEN: No, that's alright. Well, you've mentioned the woman who led the Bible class.
ERICKSEN: She obviously had an impact on your coming to faith.
JOYCE: That...that...that whole family, the four...four sisters. [pauses] You...I [laughs]...you know, when you put the question to me, [pauses] I think a lot of things just played their part, small or big. And I don't remember any other person particularly making very...a big impression. I was a kind of...I don't know whether the Lord made it to be that way, you know that I just went alone with him and how everyone else would talk to people or had questions. I remember my Bible class leader, she said, "Well, don't you have any questions you want to ask?" I said, "No." [laughs] I don't have any questions, you know. I just knew all...but, of course, I didn't. But then messages...even this...the man under whose message I had been converted, was a very fine person. But I never had any questions I needed to ask. Questions fly out of my head when I'm asked to [laughs, unclear] say what. I...so in many ways I felt I...I grew up or I grew into things just through attending church and speakers. Of course, I always enjoyed the more famous speakers at the time, you know, and the material that they would have. Like (what's his name?)...I've forgotten his name. Anyway, so I...it's hard to say. People did influence me, but I went...[laughs] I was going to say I went my own way. Not necessarily so. I went the way I felt the Lord wanted me to go. [pauses] But maybe that was...maybe, you know, you can't tell whether forms or how else it molds you into that mold.
ERICKSEN: Do you recall hearing the news about the Stams being...
ERICKSEN: ...murdered [on December 7, 1934] ? Yes, very definitely. They then...by that time I was in...I was down in London, you see, under the CI...the CIM. Yeah, we were very...you know, it was very [pauses]...something to being beheaded and the baby left and all that, very moving story. But, you see, again, with me, that's the way I look at TV. It's there [laughs], it's not here. And again that may be just something that God just always allowed in my life.
ERICKSEN: So it didn't really affect you deeply, it sounds like?
JOYCE: No, not necessarily, because I was...I was already prepared to go to China.
JOYCE: It wasn't like something say, "Well, now they've been killed. Well, we should just get a move on or do something." No. It was a terrible thing. But...and they were so young. They'd just been out, what, a couple years almost.
ERICKSEN: Now, while we're still talking about your Bible school education and your training in London, once you got to the field, were there things that you felt you didn't get quite enough of or you weren't prepared for in your education?
JOYCE: This sounds like present day questioning. I've been....[laughs]
ERICKSEN: That's the only kind I know how to ask. [laughs]
JOYCE: Well, I've been on a personnel committee for a number of years, and so I...I've...I've learned this [laughs] kind of thing. Now, what was the question? [laughs, pauses] Oh, when I got to the field.
JOYCE: No, I always say to people...I even say it to young people, that I guess I was very, what you might say, naive. Now, I went out knowing that it would be different, knowing there would be...well, having heard that there would be all kinds of situations. But when I got to the field, I...I wasn't affected that way. I was just interested in everything that came along. And...and people were different, and I saw the funny side of lots of things. [laughs] The way mothers dealt with their babies on the train and various things [laughs], they were all very funny to me. And...and then later as I worked amongst the people more I got more language, I would...I just learned to love them really, very deeply, the Chinese. And also I looked around earlier on and I thought, "All these people live in this country, so I must be able to live here too somehow." And so I think I was a very [laughs] naive young person going out. But...and a sense of humor really does help.
ERICKSEN: Now, you...you talked about things that you found funny. You mentioned how women handled their children. I mean, what...your....
JOYCE: [laughs] Do you want details!? [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Sure. Just an example of something that you found....
JOYCE: Well, on a train for instance, there's no place...no...no bathrooms. And so the child was just squatted down somewhere [laughs] and...and they had their...their little pants were made a different way so it was very helpful to mother. And, you know, but nobody...nobody worried. So I thought, "Well, why [laughs]...why should I bother?" It was...this was life that was very different from my own. To be quite candid, that was a side of life that was very difficult for me. And it is for many people, that extreme difference in many places. Like in the desert. What do you do in the desert? And so in many ways life was very funny. In other ways it was very serious. I mean, I knew I was...why I was there. And...and I just loved the people and this...I got to the place with both languages (I mean, I started with Chinese and then had Arabic later) that I could tell Bible stories and you could talk in the things of the Lord, which was really basically why you were there, not to be a great Chinese scholar or a great Arabist. At least we didn't feel so. I mean, my husband and I didn't feel so. And maybe I wouldn't have had it in me to be a great anything [laughs]. I was just a missionary there because God called me. Well, now we don't...even missionary is a bad word, but that's what we were with a mission.
ERICKSEN: Now, you were accepted in '35. Is that right? And you went in '36? Did you travel to China as a group?
ERICKSEN: Did you sail south around Africa?
JOYCE: No. We didn't go south around Africa. We went through Mediterranean.
ERICKSEN: Oh, okay.
JOYCE: From Britain, you see, came down through Bay of Biscay and across. We were at sea [?]....
ERICKSEN: How many of you...there...of you were there in the party?
JOYCE: I think we were about...I don't know why thirteen comes to my mind. About a dozen or...or so. And a...a senior missionary with us. And that was good too.
ERICKSEN: And were you all women or was it mixed?
JOYCE: No. It was not mixed. Because in those days even married couples weren't easily accepted. You didn't just say, "Well, I've got to wait till I'm married and then go." No, sir. You were on your own call from God as an individual.
ERICKSEN: And so then you probably stayed in Shanghai when you got to China? Did you go to Shanghai or did you go straight to language school?
JOYCE: Went straight to language school. Oh, a day or two in Shanghai to [laughs] get our feet as it were.
ERICKSEN: And language school would have been in...?
JOYCE: A place called Yangzhou in another province altogether. And (do you want more?) we were seventy girls, and...studying at the one time. So a big noise everywhere.
ERICKSEN: So the seventy of you all...did you all arrive at pretty much the same time?
ERICKSEN: So there were....
JOYCE: ...we all had to start there.
ERICKSEN: There were the thirteen of you or so from...
ERICKSEN: ...Britain, and then there would have been some from Australia perhaps...
JOYCE: Oh, yes.
ERICKSEN: ...and the US.
JOYCE: Everywhere. It was a mixed group. And our dean of women, before we went out of CIM, she said something that I never forgot. She said, "When you go out," she said, "forget you're British. There will be Americans, there'll be Australians, there'll be Swedish, there'll be Germans, there'll be every...everybody." And I never forgot that. Not that she meant that you should forget your roots in one sense, but to forget British in the sense that it can...you know, (what do you call?) culture could create a great deal of problems. And if you're very American or very British or very anything it's not very...not really helpful [laughs].
ERICKSEN: So did you find it easy or difficult to forget?
JOYCE: [laughs] I don't think I even thought about it.
JOYCE: I just...I was there in China and so I was going to do what I could do to be the same as the Chinese.
ERICKSEN: Did you see people having a difficult time forgetting? I mean, did the cultural differences of all the different nationalities of all the missionaries come into play?
JOYCE: Oh, I think it did to a certain extent. But on the whole...yes, I crossed someone, an English girl, and I remember having to confess my sin to her. I mean, I...I said something that was supposed to be funny but she didn't take it as funny. And so I [laughs]...I had to climb down the ladder. I didn't mean it to hurt her. And so that was even between an English and a Scot. And the...I think, it was difficult for some people. Some people just...well, I was going to say couldn't make it. It took them more time to make it. I think a lot is in your attitude to the...to the people. What are you going to do? Stay what you are or try to adapt to the situation there? I think the ideal thing is to try and adapt. But you can never really become a Chinese. I can never have a Chinese nose or a Chinese feet [laughs] or a Chinese anything. I forgot, though, that I was not Chinese when I was with them. I...but when I looked in the mirror I realized my nose was long, a lot bigger than theirs. [laughs] And therefore I was different. But I don't think we want to let the differences surmount everything else, because then we either get sorry for ourselves, or too proud, or too corrective, [laughs] to be coherent, you know, you...you write and so on. Various things come in, I think, that make it difficult for the individual or for others. And the Chinese or any other nationality, I reckon, are much faster than we are at...at character studies and character decisions and what the person is. And they're usually right. [laughs] Not very complementary sometimes.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember what month of the year you arrived in Yangzhou?
JOYCE: In Yangzhou. Well, we arrived in Shanghai in September. Probably sometime in September or October at the latest.
ERICKSEN: And how long were you in language school?
JOYCE: Six months.
JOYCE: That was only the beginning. That was a preliminary skirmish as my husband would say [laughs].
ERICKSEN: And then you were moved to your first station in...was it Tsingsing?
JOYCE: I went to a place called...I went to Hobei [Province] in the north. I went to a place called Jing...T...now, you saying that word has knocked it out of my head.
ERICKSEN: I'm sorry. That's....
JOYCE: Jingshing? Something like that.
ERICKSEN: The name I found in the directory of the town was T-S-I-N-G-S-I-N-G.
JOYCE: Yes, yes. Tsing.... Yeah, I think it was Tsingshin...Tsingshing..Tsingshing. It was hard. Jingshing. Yes, I was there with two other ladies.
ERICKSEN: And who were they?
JOYCE: Miss Rose Laver [Rasey] from Australia, and Miss [pauses]...from America.
ERICKSEN: Well, I can check the directory. You don't....
JOYCE: Yeah, you'd get her name. Oh, that was stupid. They were...they were lovely ladies, but very different. I remember again a funny thing. You see, she was American. And so we were having supper meal at the table. And she offered me some cookies or something, so I took one. And then she said, "What do I do with this?" Twirling the plate around, you see, in front of me. I said, "Put it on the table." [laughs] I mean, I couldn't understand it. That was my first lesson in differences between....
ERICKSEN: She was expecting you to take the plate.
JOYCE: Right, and pass it on to someone else. But there was nobody else to pass it on to anyway [laughs] except herself. But, so these were lessons that if you're open to them you learn. Some were more difficult. I didn't...I never learned to like bugs that...beetles that crawled in the night and would scrape on my paper wall. These things were difficult, but you got over them.
ERICKSEN: Who was the senior missionary?
JOYCE: It was this...Rose Laver [Rasey] was a nurse and she was often off the station...
JOYCE: ...being a nurse somewhere else.
ERICKSEN: So it was the American woman?
JOYCE: Yes! Oh, I...I can see her so well. This has been happening lately. It must be my advancing years. I was just knocking my [pauses]...oh, I know her so well. It...it may come at the wrong moment, but....
ERICKSEN: Well, I can check before we talk tomorrow and.... [her name was Joy Leister]
JOYCE: Alright, thank you. That's good to have a listing somewhere [laughs].
ERICKSEN: How did you feel about your Chinese at the end of language school? Were you...
JOYCE: Well, I didn't....
JOYCE: No, I don't think after...I would never be confident [laughs] with what I had, but you went.... I have learned since I've left that our pronunciation often was not right. My father-in-law, you see, was a missionary there. And he said, "Let it go in here (one ear), and let it go in the other ear, and it'll come out here." He was an excellent speaker and also very up in the [pauses] proverbs of the...of the language, which the Chinese is rich in such applicable to almost any situation. And he...he was...so we learned our...I learned at that time to be particular about what I was hearing. And I don't remember if he said it, but I've given the advice to others: "Don't take the pronunciation from a foreigner. Take it from a Chi...whoever...a national, because we do say things wrongly. And I used to think it was Honan and Hobeh [both pronounced with long "o"]. It's Honan and Hobeh [both "o's" pronounced with short "a"]. I have learned that, you see, since...from phonetics and things. And so I was in Hobeh. But it's H-O-B-E-H in English. These kind of things that I didn't...didn't make me feel very self-satisfied. I could say a few more things. But when one gets to a place of being able to suddenly hear something, I mean really hear it, I said, "Oh!" And then you have an answer. And that, I think, is a turning point in language learning. You have gained a certain stage. And you're no longer left out on the side or out in the dark. You...you...you can communicate in some way. And that's...that's a wonderful feeling. I remember feeling that especially when I was on buses and things, you know. I...I can communicate with people.
ERICKSEN: Do you remember when that happened?
JOYCE: Oh, well, that particular thing was after I started Arabic, I think [laughs]. But I don't remember it particularly with Chinese. I just...well, it was a different setup also with Chinese. You were with a group still and there was comparisons in a sense. Not that we made comparisons and teachers were different. Teaching methods were different. And I said I would like to have gone back to China and learned Chinese knowing the phonetics that we used in other...for Arabic. But I didn't, so....
ERICKSEN: How was it decided that you would work in the station you were assigned to?
JOYCE: Well, there was a member of the [CIM] board of...whatever he was...the big-shots in the...in Shanghai...the...he would come and designate. It was always done with much prayer over every individual. And if a new worker had some, not complaint exactly, but maybe felt they had other leading, then it was also considered for a time...quite a time before any final decision was made, which, I felt, gave confidence in decisions that were made for us as...as young people. Mine was rather funny, again, because my parents-in-law-to-be were in Honan. And they...and some others, my sister-in-law. Of course, Raymond was still up in Xinjiang. And they asked me if I had any particular reason to...would I want to work here in Honan. And quite honestly I had no particular reason. I didn't know my in-laws-to-be really well, but...and my sister-in-law and I were very different temperamentally and I didn't think it would work anyway. And I deep down feel it's not good for relatives to work together. I think you get on better if you're not. But that's only a...a personal thought. Nobody asked me for that now. So [laughs] I just keep it to myself. Oh, I say it when it's necessary. But...so that...that helped the person who was deciding for me to send me to Hobeh. Because he said, "I have a request there for a...a new worker." So that's how I went to Rose Rasey...and Joy Leister is the other person's name. Joy was the senior. And she wrote a very beautiful letter to me. She didn't know me at all and she said, "I don't know you." But she said, "If you're English, I'll try and get tea that will satisfy you. If you're Irish...." I forget what happened when you were Irish. And she didn't know anything about Scotland. Oh, I think, no, she did...she said, "If you're Scottish...." No, I think I answered back first and I said I was none of these, I was Scottish. "Oh," then she said, "Scottish people like marmalade, orange marmalade." And she sent to the coast for marmalade, so I would have marmalade when I got there. Well, I didn't think...I...I enjoy marmalade, but if there isn't marmalade, there isn't marmalade. That's all [laughs]. Later on, in Hob...in Lebanon, I learned...I made marmalade from the...they grew the marmalade oranges. But that...I appreciated that knowing...I mean, that was a lovely bond and showed a very nice spirit because she didn't know me. I could have been anything coming, especially coming from Scotland, you know. So that was...that was a wonderful sort of shall I say not...well, invitation...well...welcome really to...to that area. And very helpful.
ERICKSEN: Now any of the...did any of the missionaries who went to language school, were there any of them that just couldn't make it and had to go home?
JOYCE: One or two. One when we were there. It was very sad. I mean, Agnes was her name. She really got a breakdown. She couldn't take it. And she had to go home.
ERICKSEN: Because of the strain of the language work?
JOYCE: I think...I think everything. She began to question her call. That is one great point, I think, that should be made with young people today. They look at so much in the light of a job. "Oh, I'm capable of this or I've been trained for that." But that's not really what is hit by the enemy of souls. It's this other thing that you (what did I say?) [laughs]....
ERICKSEN: The call?
JOYCE: The call. You...I'm...I'm a great believer in saying, "Get God's Word on it. Be sure that He has led, and if He has given you some word in Scripture, hold on to it and use it, and battle through whatever comes your way. Unless, of course, you're dying or [laughs] something...you might have to go, because I think we're getting (this is from my experience later in life) too...we're too conscious of our position in society. I mean, "What I have accomplished." It's not wrong in itself, but if it clashes, which it can do, I don't say always does, because God sometimes uses, say, your training in a very...especially medicals and things like that. But I...I never did any...any office work at all when I was...after I went overseas. I did things for people, but I didn't...I wasn't in headquarters or anything like that. You know, though I had the training. But the...this...I think that today we need to emphasize the call. Oh, I probably am a voice in the wilderness, you know. But as I watch young people and some come back, you know, discouraged and...but you have to go through these periods. Of course, I shouldn't really say these things perhaps, because life...missionary life has changed. The whole face of missions has changed, with the result that you have shorter periods out there, you have more...maybe more stress in...in different ways. I mean, we went out...we signed the dotted line for seven years. You know, so you just didn't think you'd be back for [before] seven years. But that's quite a long time. On the other hand it can go by very fast. Actually, we were...I was only out my first term four-and-a-half years because Raymond did nine years instead of going home at seven. He decided to get married [laughs]. And then...so he...but I'm a little...I'm diverting a little I think from....
ERICKSEN: Well, since you brought up Raymond, you mentioned that you had met....
JOYCE: It's another whole story [laughs].
ERICKSEN: I know. But...you had met him at a meeting in Glasgow, right?
ERICKSEN: Was that the first time?
JOYCE: Yeah, that...that was the first time. Well, actually I think the first time was when he came out to my home area and...with this other missionary and...and talked to us young people. Then I...I met him again. And then, of course, he encouraged us...or encouraged me as the first sort of convert to this little group to start Scripture Union. He used that term and that method because you had the readings and things, and [?] then encouraged us to do evangelistic work and all kinds of things [laughs]. We [laughs]...all kinds of things. I was seventeen and I was the oldest of the lot [laughs]. We did...we did open-air work. We did all kinds of things. We...and various places asked us to go as a group to speak at meetings. Now I think all of these things were good training. And so that was then Raymond. But Raymond and I, we never had a date or anything like that. In fact, these friends, Bible class teacher and her sisters, made a point of not matchmaking. Although she said, "I often thought that you and Raymond would just be okay." This was after we were engaged. But she said, "I was not...we were not going to be matchmakers. That if God wanted that, then it would be." And so that's why Raymond and I never...never...we never had a date till we met in Shanghai seven years after we had first met.
ERICKSEN: And what were the circumstances of your meeting in Shanghai?
JOYCE: Oh, he came out from Xinjiang, because...well, for one thing they were...it was getting hot, you know, Russian-wise, and they were being ousted. I mean, they...that's why they couldn't come out through China, which would have been the shorter way. But they had to go over the Himalayas into India and then right round, while I came from central China up, and we met at the Yellow River, the break in the Yellow River. And that...that was how we met first in China [laughs]. We shook hands and sort of went on our ways [laughs] in the horse-carts. Yeah, so...what was the point of the question?
ERICKSEN: Well, we were talking about you...the...what...leading up to your marrying Raymond.
JOYCE: Yeah, but what was the point of it? [laughs] I'm just making sure that I was right. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Well, I asked you where you met in China then. Or what was the occasion that you met in Shanghai? So when did you become engaged?
JOYCE: Well, you see, we didn't...by...by letter. I bought my own engagement ring. I mean, Ray paid for it, but, I mean.... [laughs]. That was always...the girls (my fellow students), they...the...I saw it just the other day, a very funny little poem that she said, "Either you'll be married by mail or by...by letter or by postcard." Just by postcard [laughs]. But they would tease me. Of course, we didn't...we didn't...correspondence was very erratic. Sometimes it would be sixteen weeks or more between one letter and the next. Then you would get several. I would get several and the same thing happened the other way. So that it was really.... And same for Otto Schoerner [fellow CIM missionary]. [laughs] He and Katie had the same experience. It was very funny.
JOYCE: So a lot of it was by faith [laughs].
ERICKSEN: I guess. So how much contact did you have with each other before...
JOYCE: We got married?
ERICKSEN: ...you were engaged, yeah, and then were married?
JOYCE: Well, we were engaged by letter you see. That...he'd gone to China by that time. And that would be a year or two after he'd gone. But evidently something [laughs] held on in him [laughs]. I....
ERICKSEN: Now, what...what was it about him that impressed you?
JOYCE: [laughs] I wasn't impressed by him at the beginning at all.
ERICKSEN: You weren't?
JOYCE: No. I had a boyfriend and so I thought, "Oh, he...he didn't...he just came second along that line." He...I didn't know him, of course, at all. And I had just...I was a very young Christian. And this other boy, as though I gave you six months to get over [?]. Of course, he didn't...that didn't work. And so I...he didn't really impress me at first, but afterwards he did. [laughs] There was something...but his...his Christian attitude and his...he led my brother to the Lord about six...about maybe a year after I had been converted. And it was just his steadfastness. He never veered from his call from God to China and his call to Muslims. These two never [shows strong emotion in her voice while talking] changed. So he was....
ERICKSEN: Was he a stubborn man?
JOYCE: I would say that Raymond was stubborn in the right way. Where principle was concerned, where things were concerned like that, he held his ground. No, he wasn't...I might have been more stubborn in a stupid way, you know. My father always said I was stubborn and contrary. If you know what "contrary" is. Well, we say contrary, but he was Scottish. I was stubborn and contrary. Well, they seemed to [laughs] make do with me for that time. And then...so in stubborn...just sheer stubbornness, I probably would be just crazy at, you know, various things. My...my brother would say, "Oh, you'd argue a black for a white." Well, that's true. You know, that kind of thing, where there's no sense to it. But Raymond, I don't think he ever was like that. Raymond was very, very steadfast, and [door closes in the background]...and where principle was concerned and...he stood his ground.
JOYCE: Oh, of course, got it in the neck of me [?] when you're on the field and you were field leader and all that kind of thing. They would criticize him for various things. Aghh! And he'd just say, "Look, that...that's not true. I'm...I've...I've got to look at the whole picture, all...the whole situation now for everything on...on the field. Don't look at one person as compared with another." So but...no, he...but I'm biased maybe [laughs].
ERICKSEN: You're entitled to that.
JOYCE: Oh, I see. Good.
ERICKSEN: How long was your engagement? You were married in th...in January '39.
JOYCE: '39. I think we were engaged...he went out in '31, '32, 3...about six or seven years.
JOYCE: And now, we tell this to some young people, they just can't believe it, you know [laughs]. Conquer [?] it nowadays, but....
ERICKSEN: Okay, so now...okay, I'm getting the picture now. You were engaged before you came to the field?
JOYCE: And that had to change the whole candidature, you see, or at least...at least the Reverend Aldis [?] in London, England, he said, "It should." But he said, "Knowing Raymond and his parentage, background and everything else, and known him for...here many years," he said, "I think...I think it will work out all right." [laughs] So, of course, I had to change my...I mean, I had to change, you know, the bits that you'd signed and filled in. But it passed [laughs] and I...I got out. But, of course, there was adjustments to be made, you know. You hadn't seen this man for all these years. And...but I think maybe we hadn't done too bad a job by letter. You know, we got to know each other. And I did meet his parents in Scotland. And, of course, Father Joyce was a bit un...not too sure, and he spoke to my Bible class leader. That was the wrong person to speak to but, he said, "You know anybody would give their..." well, we say, "an arm and a leg today to...to be in Mona's position there, you know." [door closes in background] "Oh," she said, "oh," but she said, "she has other...other boyfriends," she said, you know, [laughs], "not dependent on you and Raymond." And I was glad she stuck up for me. [laughs] But these are the funny things that happen. So...but I did meet them, bore their scrutiny. And Father called me Miss Decisive, because they just couldn't run me, I guess, like these other female members in the home. I mean, he was very much the match of the person...leader. He was a great leader. He was a great man, a great missionary. But he and I clashed sometimes [laughs]. But they were wonderful missionaries, both he and his wife.
ERICKSEN: What was it like marrying into one of...I...I suppose you could call it one of CIM's dynastic families?
JOYCE: I didn't think about it [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Well, maybe that was a good thing.
JOYCE: You know....
ERICKSEN: So that didn't impress you.
JOYCE: No. I'm not easily impressed [laughs]. I'm...maybe...maybe it's wrong...a wrong attitude to life, but I'm not easily impressed. I'm not a...I think everybody's everybody himself. [laughs], you know. I'm myself and.... You know, people with...it's a big thing, you know, "It's time to get to know himself or herself." I said, "For goodness sake! [laughs] You know, I...that...that's something I just don't understand [laughs] psycholo...psychologically. Oh, maybe I do in a sense, but I think it's crazy [laughs]. I think God made you like you are. You better get on and understand yourself. And in many ways I think that can be a downfall, you know. Then you...it's hard on the field and hard on all the people. Just be satisfied. Don't...you probably have to get my son's [laughs] impression of me [laughs]. I don't...we're too much alike in lots of ways. [laughs] But I have another son who's different...and a daughter.
ERICKSEN: So there are three children?
ERICKSEN: Now, you were married in '39. And then did you come on furlough then?
JOYCE: No. No. You see, Raymond did another two-and-a-half years. That made him nine-and-a-half years out. It was too long. He got typhoid during that time. And that...and there was no medication in those days for typhoid. And we were in the backwoods. But the Lord saw him through. And he remembers swallowing water. He...he just loved to swim. If ever there was swimable water, he would go in. And he remembered he...we were escorting a couple who had been staying with us in...to the junk. And he remembered swallowing the water that was near the junk. So you can imagine, it wasn't exactly purified [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Clean, yeah.
JOYCE: And so then he had...he went through this typhoid. And that decided him to apply for furlough, because he said, "I...I can mark time, but I don't feel I have the energy to tackle anything new if we have to go to another place." And so we came back then. And....
ERICKSEN: What year would that have been? '41?
JOYCE: That was '41. Then, of course, the war was declared, yeah. No, the war started in '39. America declared war on Japan in '41, and that was another whole new kettle of fish [idiom meaning different] [laughs].
ERICKSEN: And where did you take your furlough?
JOYCE: I...we came to Canada, because we couldn't get to Britain easily. For the first...no, wait a minute. I've got to get my chronology right. We came...no, when we came home finally we went to Britain, because it was a question of whether Rob and Margery would do schooling in Britain or...or, you know, whether we'd stop there or come on. And we came on to Canada. We'd come to Canada before because there were relatives and it wasn't easy to go to Britain at that time, because that was the height of the war in '41...I mean, from '39 to '41. And we came to Canada and were here until there was a passage across the ocean sort of cleared by. And we went back to Britain and went on from there. And then Raymond taught for a year in Jerusalem. And then we went...continued on around to China in...that would be forty-...'41, '42, '43...that was '46, I think, by the time we went. But that's a way on from where we are.
ERICKSEN: How noticeable were the changes that you saw in China when you arrived after the war?
JOYCE: I don't remember any particular things after the war, because the war had hardly touched China, had it, the second World War? That was more later when Japan entered in and did all the things that they did around Singapore and all that area. I don't know what they called that war. But, no, I can't say that I noticed anything outstanding. People would just...had gone on their own way in China as it happens. In so many ways they can...they can just carry on, even now. But it was Communism that hit them hard.
ERICKSEN: Now when you came back you were stationed in the west?
JOYCE: Yeah, that was that our final thing when we came back in '46. We were out in west Yunnan, China, west China. That was different from either of our places before. We had spoken with the headquarters people about maybe going back to Xinjiang. But I forget what the reason was then. There was something (I don't know whether it was political) but it didn't seem the right thing. So then the mission headquarters, they were very interested because they knew that Raymond had prior rights [laughs] or prior feelings for the Muslims. So then Yunnan had quite a number of Muslims at that time, and we went to Yunnan, and were there until...until '46 until '51. And....
ERICKSEN: Was there any work developed there already among Muslims?
JOYCE: Now "developed" is...is...it depends what you mean by "developed."
JOYCE: There were people who were interested in Muslims, but very few. We could...we'd reckon maybe two couples actually...actually doing Muslim work or sort of. And I remember Raymond sent out a prayer (what shall I call it?)...a prayer call when we were in Yunnan for two weeks of prayer and [pauses] reaching out to Muslims. Two weeks in their...in the year, whichever way it worked out. We...he gave certain weeks that were...that so that there was a concentration of prayer. We notified people at home, concentration of prayer, and for this kind of advance amongst them. And I think it shook many people up to realize that the Muslims were being bypassed, which happened very easily. They are not an easy people to meet. They are easy in many ways to preach the gospel to, because you have so many bridges across that can do that. That doesn't mean that it's easy to (what shall I say?)...that doesn't really mean conversion. It just means adv...approach. And so we went to Yunnan and were there for...well, till we came back.
ERICKSEN: How strongly did you feel the...the...the presence or the impact of the Communists?
ERICKSEN: In Yunnan?
JOYCE: Yeah. Yes, even in Yunnan.
JOYCE: Well, we were all very conscious of it, but I think the people didn't really know what communism was. And some missionaries were very cheery, as they still are, about certain things, about doing things. I felt that we should explain to Christians what communism was all about, as much as we knew. We didn't...hadn't experienced it. But some missionaries were not for that: "Don't tell them." But they just didn't know what had hit them, really, I mean, the Chinese more than...well, we should know a bit about what they're like. But the...the impact was quite strong. The...the Chinese especially would say, "What is all this?. We never heard this before." And you know, they would...to replenish stock for a store, they would just be checked out and checked and checked out. They had to have passes before they could go to the capitol to get...to get stuff. On the way back it would all be...it would all be gone through. And they just couldn't understand it at all. And then, of course, punishment would go with wrongdoing, or what was termed wrongdoing. And poor souls, it just...it was awful. And they would tie up the landlords. It was just...it was awful. I mean, they were...you see, they were good in some ways. They would come in and borrow your buckets for something, and then fill them up with water and all that. You see, made a good impression. But all...what went on otherwise, it was just awful. But some people have different ideas. It depends on how you look at communism and what it was doing. It...it was just working at the heart of things. And it was just shattering in many cases. But still there. When I was back two years ago I saw the red star [symbol of Chinese Communism] various places, on all the doors. And I thought.... What I was interested in when I went back was when we went into the country, into some of the tribal areas to see what...what was on the doorposts. So that was where they used to have their god-fearing...their gods-fearing things, you see, would be written over the posts of the door. And some of these, I think, were still old sayings or they would have them more in four...four-character phrases to ward off the evil spirits, to ward off the [unclear]. So, you see, that was the same as the olden days, although a Communist says, "There is no god, and there is no this, that, and next thing." They say...they say...it is said, I should say, (because you always say "Who's 'they'?")...it's said that Communism...no, China will absorb into herself as her own anything that hits her from the outside. So I think this is what's going to happen with Communism. They're going to make their own Communism. As they make their own Christianity. I mean, they've said this, you see. I mean, they've said this, you see. I mean, Chris...Christianity. Basically its right, but it's just they are absorbing, they are making it theirs, because it was always the Western thing, you see, before. Of course, to them it is Western. Christ was born in the West as far as they were concerned. But they associate it with America, and those of us are bad guys [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Now, how were you treated as expatriate missionaries by the Communists?
JOYCE: Well...well, we were confined to our compound eventually. We did get out once or twice and then...and then they said, "No." And we...we wanted to go into the country for evangelism, Raymond and I, and we....
END OF TAPE